Appliance Pros Weigh In: Can You Microwave a Turkey?

When it comes to preparing a large meal including all your favourites, timing is everything—but whether you may be tempted to cut down on the three to five hours it takes to roast a large bird, or your oven is in need of repair, you may want to think twice before cooking a turkey in the microwave.

Raw turkey being put into a microwave

How Long Does It Take to Microwave a 11kg Turkey?

The 11kg/25lb turkey challenge that made the rounds on social media posts in 2018 and has continued to surface each year around the holidays, began as a harmless prank which provoked some hilarious responses. It all began when one user texted their parents to ask how long it would take to microwave an 11kg/25lb turkey, under the guise of hosting or attending a holiday gathering with friends. Once the text conversation was posted online for all to see, the trend continued as millennials across the country began what became known as the #25lbTurkeyChallenge.

Can You Microwave a Turkey?

If you've ever considered cooking a turkey in the microwave, you're not alone, but while it technically can be done it isn't recommended, and the results may range from disappointment to disaster. Examples of issues you may encounter while attempting this unconventional method include:

Space Limitations

Experts suggest an allowance of at least .57kg of turkey for each guest at your gathering. Using this method, and 11.5kg bird should be adequate for a gathering of up to 20 people, and while you may have enough room in your home to host this many guests, chances are, your microwave doesn't have enough room to accommodate such a large bird.

Undercooked Bird

Anyone who has ever heated leftovers in the microwave can relate to food that appears piping hot but is only lukewarm or cold in the center. When cooking a turkey in the microwave this can lead to a false sense of security that the bird is cooked through, while parts may still be raw or undercooked. Eating poultry that has not been cooked to the proper temperature can lead to food poisoning, with symptoms that may include abdominal cramps, vomiting, and diarrhea.

Damaged Appliance

While it is possible to cook a smaller 4.5kg or 5.5kg bird in the microwave, it takes almost as long as it would in a conventional oven. Most microwaves are designed to reheat food or beverages or defrost smaller items, and may not hold up to a rigorous three or four-hour stint needed to prepare a turkey.

Tips for Cooking a Turkey in the Microwave

According to a story, quoting the turkey experts at Butterball, you can safely cook a smaller bird in the microwave using these steps.

1) Do the math. Calculate how long to cook the turkey based on 9 to 10 minutes per pound, at 50 percent power. *Note: Since their tips were given in US measurements, be sure to use pound-to-kg conversion. Here’s a free one we found online.

2) Leave room. Ensure there is at least seven centimeters of clearance between the oven roof and walls and the turkey.

3) Bag it. Place the bird in an oven cooking bag to ensure even cooking.

4) Omit the stuffing. Stuffing may not cook and cause illness if consumed.

5) Use a thermometer. Ensure the turkey is at a minimum of 74 degrees Celsius before eating.

Mr. Appliance has some great tips on other uses for your microwave!

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